Given the experience of politicians with sexcapades, one might hope they would be a little more circumspect in their embrace of the flavor of the month redefinitions of what constitutes a sexual assault for college students. After all, had that been the rule when they went to Fordham, there’s a good chance they would be digging ditches today.
New York’s political leaders have reached a deal on one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s legislative priorities for 2015, saying they will adopt new laws intended to change the way sexual assaults on all college campuses in the state are handled.
The agreement, announced on Tuesday, proposes legislation that would establish a statewide definition of “affirmative consent,” and define consent as a “knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.”
Which means . . . what?
This does not mean students will need to enter into a written contract before every sexual encounter; it is meant to reorient students in terms of how they approach sex, said Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, a Manhattan Democrat and chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee.
Okay, so it doesn’t mean more work for Legal Zoom, but what does it mean?
“It’s a question of putting everyone on notice that they have to be in a consensual situation,” Ms. Glick said. “It also sends a message to the institutions that they have to up their game on how sexual assault on campus is viewed and treated.”
So what you’re saying is, you have no clue what it means either. Great. So students will be accused, go through the pretense of a hearing where guilt is presumed, due process is denied, and males are expelled from college (no refund?), permanently tainted, lives ruined, based upon meaningless rhetoric? Well, yes. That’s what it means.
The “compromise” language reached in this deal is provided by Capital Confidential:
Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willigness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Kinda makes the Beatles’ “I wanna hold your hand” seem prescient.
There are two huge glaring gaps here, not to mention a thousand smaller ones. First, there is nothing in there relating to the inability to consent based upon intoxication. Does that mean that drunkenness doesn’t obviate consent, or that they’ve punted on the question, leaving it to students to take their chances and colleges to do whatever they please?
Second, the definition plays the same game as California’s, that consent can be “by words or actions.” This “compromise” was meant to address the absurdity of having to ask “may I” with each grope or nuzzle, but it leaves every student to his own devices to figure out what action is sufficient, what means what.
At the same time, “silence or lack of resistance” does not mean consent, so if someone stares lovingly in another person’s eyes, unbuttons a shirt, while the other silently, longingly, allows it to happen without a word, we’ve got us an assault!
That Cuomo doesn’t see a problem was made abundantly clear when he decided to hook up with the brilliant legal scholar, Lady Gaga, in a joint op-ed in the
Harvard Law Review New York Times Billboard, where all the really deep thought happens.
Every fall, young men and women head off to colleges across the country, dreaming of bright futures and the experience of a lifetime. They’ve worked hard for the chance to become a part of their new campuses, and they set out full of hope and excitement.
Unfortunately, for thousands of these students that dream turns into a nightmare because of the unacceptable epidemic of sexual violence that is currently plaguing colleges and universities. It is a shocking reality that many in academia, government, and society in general still refuse to acknowledge.
Cite? Get real, there are no cites in Billboard. In Billboard, it’s all about sweeping feelz based on movies, and Cuomo had just the movie to prove his point.
[T]he governor has been promoting a documentary called “Hunting Ground,” about sexual assault on college campuses. The film was co-produced by his sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, and Lady Gaga contributed to the soundtrack.
Well, not when that emotion involves any sort of sexual activity on campus in New York, from now on, because it’s going to end up being dependent on whether the male student can, without benefit of counsel or discovery, offer facts to prove his innocence. Otherwise, he’s screwed.